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Catherine Banks - PhotoCatherine A Banks, BA, BEd

Catherine Banks was born on March 18th, 1957, in Middleton, Nova Scotia to Garnet and Kathleen Banks. Catherine’s first memory of poetry, at the age of seven, was hearing her father read Robert Frost’s The Birches to her mother and their discussion about the meaning of the poem for his night-school assignment. She has described this moment, so different from their usual conversations of money worries, as though a rare and beautiful bird had alighted in their tiny apartment kitchen.

Catherine wrote her first poem at ten and with the encouragement of her Grade 8 teacher and mentor Ms Mitchell, she continued writing poems through high school and during her years at Acadia University. After graduating (BA ’78, BEd ’79) Catherine spent six years teaching Special Education in the Shelburne and Halifax school systems. While teaching in Halifax, Catherine attended a student production of Les belles soeurs by Michele Tremblay at Mount Saint Vincent University, which inspired her to take a playwriting course. She often describes writing her first play, the writing of a complex and complete story through dialogue alone, as coming home.  

Catherine’s produced plays include The Summer of the Piping Plover (1991), Three Storey, Ocean View (2000), Bitter Rose (2000), Bone Cage (2007), It Is Solved By Walking (2011) and Miss N Me (2015). She received the Nova Scotia Established Artist Award in 2008. Her work is the recipient of two Governor General’s Literary Awards for Drama: Bone Cage (2008) and It Is Solved By Walking (2012). It Is Solved By Walking was translated into Catalan for readings in Catalonia in 2012. Bitter Rose was broadcast on Bravo Canada! as part their Singular Series. Committed to helping to sustain a vibrant theatre community she has held Board positions on The Playwrights Guild of Canada, the Dramatist Co-op of Nova Scotia, Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre, Halifax Theatre for Young People and is currently on the Boards of HomeFirst Theatre Company and Keep Good (Theatre) Company.
One of Catherine’s greatest joys is encouraging others to pursue their Art. She teaches courses in creativity to women, speaks to university students about writing, meets with young poets and playwrights about their work and has taught playwriting at Dalhousie Theatre School. Catherine lives and writes in Sambro, Nova Scotia. Rilla Banks and Simon Rogers are her ever-supportive children.

Catherine Banks will be honoured during the morning ceremony (10:00a.m.) on November 1.


Leilani Farha - Photo-smaller versionLeilani Farha

Leilani Farha was appointed UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing in June 2014. She is also the Executive Director of the NGO Canada Without Poverty, based in Ottawa. A lawyer by training, for the past 20 years Leilani has worked both internationally and domestically on the implementation of human rights for the most marginalized groups.

In Canada, Leilani worked on housing rights issues as the Executive Director of the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA). In that capacity, she helped to launch a historic legal challenge seeking the implementation of UN recommendations for addressing homelessness as a violation of human rights.

Internationally, Leilani has actively participated in a number of missions around the world to examine housing and living conditions of marginalized communities and to assist in developing policy responses for the implementation of human rights. Leilani is known as a dynamic and effective advocate for economic, social and cultural rights and for promoting legal protection and access to justice for these rights. She has researched and published widely on issues related to housing rights, including on forced evictions, and securing land and housing rights for indigenous peoples. As a central dimension in all her activities, she has worked extensively on women’s economic, social and cultural rights.

Leilani Farha will be honoured during the afternoon ceremony (2:00p.m.) on November 1.